We are all feeling the sharp pain of the Boeing Company’s knife-in-the-back announcement on Wednesday. After more than 80 years of profiting from the sweat, skills and talent of Wichita’s citizens, Boeing is kissing us goodbye and punctuating their farewell by giving that knife a little extra twist against our spine. Just their way of saying, “Air Capitol, Schmair Capitol. I can’t believe you bought the line about my bringing 7,500 new jobs to Kansas with the tanker program. So long, chump.”
Let me just say personally, as an editorial cartoonist in Wichita for the last 25 years, I may be one of the biggest chumps. During the Air Force tanker controversy, back when they first announced that they were giving the contract to Airbus, get this: I drew the Air Force stabbing us in the back. I trotted out my favorite symbol for Wichita, the Keeper of the Plains sculpture, with a knife in its back. Little did I suspect, Boeing would eventually be the stabber.
Oh, and here’s another rich one: last year when the decision was made that Boeing would, after all, be winning the tanker contract, I drew the Keeper with a tanker-shaped feather in his headdress. Ha! Get it? The Boeing tanker deal was a feather in our cap! Brother.
And our senators, governors, representatives and local officials? They were all played by Boeing. Played like a violin. We should change the name of our city to Stradivarius, Kansas.
It all would be sort of amusing if it weren’t for the tragedy of thousands of lost jobs and anguished households. We will, of course, survive. This forced diversification of Wichita’s economy will benefit us long term. But short term, Boeing’s stab into our back is excruciating.
Will the last Boeing official to leave please turn out the light? And try not to smear the blood on your hands all over the light switch.